So I made it to St. John’s Restaurant. I’d viscerally hoped this was going to happen last August when a charming state worker at the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site recommended we try it for their crab cakes. Well we were with semi-friends from out of state and they were worn out and Louisiana fooded out. So to my great disappointment, we ened up calling it a day and heading home.
Like McArthur, I vowed I would return. Return I did. I invited my happy-to-travel mother to drive out to cajun country and see if we couldn’t find my long anticipated restaurant. We got to St. Martinville, and I didn’t know what or where the place was but imagined I could ask around for the place known for good crab cakes.
I struck out with the couple I asked visiting from New Iberia. But the lady in local boutique said it was probably St. John’s I was thinking of and told we had a half hour until the restaurant close til dinner. We cut across the old catholic cathedral grounds to St. Johns and found ourselves in charming, yet a little uneasy close quarters with a full two rooms of lunchtime dinners.
It was pleasant, diverse, and very Louisiana. Conversations were going on in English and French and the owner naturally made his way around over the hour or so we were there checking in with the tables. At the same time I felt an outsider, I also felt a bond in that existed in that time and place.
Then came the food. We shared an order of catfish plantation and crab cakes. I’d meant to get it blackened rather than fried but forgot. I’m okay with it though because the catfish came like no catfish I’d ever had before. It was fried like chicken-fried-steak. Meaning a rich flour breading with almost rue undertones and not a bit greasy. It was topped with shrimp and lump crab sauce and served with grilled vegetables.
The crab cake was good. But I guess though I love crab, so far I’m just not a huge crab cake fan. I appreciated the texture of the cake’s golden outer shell that yielded a softer almost semi-doughey inside. In a welcomed break, seasoning was largely forgone allowing the flavor of the meat and cake to stand alone.
All-in-all I was happy to have made it to St. John’s. I was surprised to learn they opened in 2010. For how well integrated St. John’s is in the community and geography, it could as well have been a staple dating back to the area’s establishment. Kudos, St. John.